The Garmin Forerunner 35
A Sad Statement by the Author
Best that I get this out of the way before anyone starts, and before anyone questions my allegiance.
I love Currys PC World and I also love Garmin
Let me explain myself. I love Garmin, for loads of reasons. Despite the fact that hey often insist on making stupid square watches (everyone must know by now that I am not a fan). I love them because they make great, well thought out watches, they make a huge range of them to suit most pockets, and most specialties (including general purpose), I love them because they get a lot right, and when hey do they don’t replace them 6 weeks later and I also love them because once in a while they make mistakes. And lastly they are usually really easy to approach fora demo model, and usually very quick to supply.
I love Currys/PC World almost as much. So much so that I once thought they must have been Garmin’s brother. If not the same company. You see if as a reviewer you were struggling to get a hold of a Garmin watch to review (very rare indeed), all you had to do was toddle off, down to the local PC World, and you could guarantee that they had the exact model that you needed to review. Not only that, a pimply youth called Collin or Stuart, would gladly let you take it from the display and wander around the shop with it for hour, upon endless hour. Then when you gave it him back he would try to defend his sale by asking if there was a colour or box or anything else on earth that you hadn’t considered, because he would make it happen for you.
So What is On the Slab?
Yes we all like to read reviews on the latest 1,00 dollar super watch, and yes we would all like to get our hands on one, almost as regularly as they hit the shelves.
Yes also it is intriguing to see what budget busting features that the Chinese come up with on a regular basis. But we need to remember that all (most) of us just need a watch that we can afford to, and will wear on a daily basis, and that will need to put up with the bumps and bangs of daily life.
There are 2 ways of approaching this.
First there is the Chinese, method; We buy a feature packed watch at a vastly controlled and reduced price with 12/24 month warranty. Knowing full well that this is about the life expectancy of the watch, and so long as it gets somewhere close to that we are going to be happy, and we wil then move onto the next one. We fully expect that the same model of watch will no longer be available, but we are more than prepared to sacrifice that for the next ‘latest thing.’
The second (and strangely still very popular) method, is something strangely associated with the days of the analogue, or even pocket watch. That is comfort and familiarity. We find something reassuring and comforting about being able to glance down at our watch and immediately understand the message that is reflected back at us from it’s face.
We buy these watches, because we can afford them, but if they break we can kind of just go and get another one. Deep down though, if they afford us any longevity, we kind of hope that they last way beyond the bounds of their warranty because they are like an old friend, and we kind of like having them around. When these watches do finally fail us, the first thing that we try to do is buy the exact same one again.
Well against all of the strive for the latest, bigger, better, faster trends, there are still manufacturers (fewer by the week admittedly) that when they happen to produce something popular and useful, they continue doing this for a long while.
Garmin, for all of their faults, are one such manufacturer. Not only that they still believe in their customer, so, even when a watch of theirs is discontinued they will continue to provide support for the owners of those watches for as long as they can.
So I thought that it would be a great idea, to run a series of reviews on this second bunch of watches. The ones that we rely on, the ones that become our old friends. Just to get under the hood and assess if these watches are still relevant, and if they can still offer us the value for money and reliability that we so crave.
The Forerunner 35
I chose the Forerunner 35, because launched in 2016, and still in production (and the fact that I still have one), it appears to qualify as one of the ‘old friend’ category of watches. For the first time that i can remember Garmin are offering a significant saving on the Forerunner 35 which may just make it well worth a look.
Three years ago, when I bought mine, I think that it cost around £120, if memory serves me right. Which for all that the watch offered (it is still the only square watch I have ever paid cash for) a reasonable amount of value. Given that Garmin, have never really discounted the watch significantly in the years since is a fair indicator that they got the pricing just about spot on then, and the watch still retails for around the same money, which for a monochrome 3 yr old model is pretty amazing.
The Forerunner 35 is (no surprises here) first and foremost a watch designed with the runner in mind. It has many runner minded modes including warm-up and warm-down, you can even program workout/rest periods based on time or distance all from within the watch itself. I am inherently lazy so if I have to start poncing about with apps, or the in-watch set-up is even slightly complicated I quickly lose interest in the modes, so the ease with which the modes, including the advanced pacesetter mode is a major plus with the 35.
The only problem that I have ever had with the Forerunner, is that it does seem to take considerably longer to match up with GPS. At first I thought that this was something that i noticed because of the much higher-end watches that I was used to testing, but I have now tested it against comparable (and much cheaper) watches, and for some reason it always seems to take at least a couple of seconds longer.
Come on Garmin, don’t you know time is money!!!
Having said that I have never had any complaints regarding the accuracy of the GPS, which is a trick many more expensive brands should take a serious note from.
So there we go, the Garmin Forerunner, is meant to be a specialist runners watch, and if truth be told as far as running is concerned it has always proven itself to be more than a match for most other watches on the market.
There are obviously (there always is) plenty of other sports/activity modes included in the watch, but they are all going to be less impressive, right?
Well let’s see.
OMG! Garmin include a sleep tracker (I think) in every smartwatch that they make and absolutely every single one of them is bobbins! I think they must buy the chip responsible from the local 99p stall.
The Forerunner 35 tracks sleep automatically and in the morning you can check the app for info on your night’s rest, including how much you moved around while sleeping and how much time you spent in deep and light sleep. But (and its the same on every Garmin watch), if you happen to be capable of sitting even relatively still (like when you are watching the telly, or even reading a book) the Forerunner will log that as sleep.
I don’t know about you, but there is a considerable portion of the day when i can be as quiet as a mouse without starting to snore. Overall it’s a poor show, and you are not going to be able to use this as evidence of sleep deprivation.
Forerunner for the Cyclist.
For a long time I felt a little letdown here, and then a friend showed me the hidden indoor cycling section, which is hidden rather confusingly in the outdoor section. Then I totally changed my mind, because even though the Forerunner screen is slightly small for cycling, it proves itself to be really rather capable. Especially when you download the data to the Garmin Connect App later and find everything that you would need including maps of your ride.
The Activity Tracker
I wouldn’t go so far as to state that the Forerunner 35, is a great activity tracker, but despite the fact that you are probably not going to want to be wearing it all of the time (it’s square), (yes I know I am probably getting to the point that I need to seek professional help over this) it is a more than capable one.
Garmin includes comprehensive daily tracking on all of its wearables, and the Forerunner 35, is no exception to that. It will record pretty much any aspect of your activity you’d wish to know about. There’s steps, calories (both active and resting), active minutes across the week and 24/7 heart rate tracking. You even get a graph of your heart rate over the past four hours on the watch itself.
You can set activity goals and get alerts when you have completed them. And for those of us that spend more time on our butts than the balls of our feet, there is no get out clause here fulfilled with a few shakes of the wrist.
A Useful Heart Rate Monitor?
Because the Forerunner 35’s heart rate monitor is always on, and can therefore take a constant measure of your heart rate over 24hrs, it has the useful ability to quite accurately predict your resting heart rate. And therefore provide a really useful indicator as to your overall health over a period of time
After a few workouts you can also benefit from an accurate measure of your VO2 max, which once again can provide vital overall indication of improving health.
Overall the monitor has proven to be very accurate and the information available through the Garmin App is very impressive, The one slight problem that I found was that if you are trying to use it for interval training the forerunner suffers from a bit of lag between modes. That however is once again brought back to insignificance through the app.
In comparison to Apple’s wrist-worn smartphone communication interface (here we go again, yes I refuse to call it the iwatch, because it patently is not a watch) then the Forerunner falls back into the field of also rans. As par for the course of the less expensive watches basically all smart functions have to be accessed by taking out you phone.
I bought one (despite the fact that it is square), mainly on the advice of a review that I saw, which stated that if you could find the Forerunner 35 for less than £150, then it was one of the best watches on the market.
With slight modification, and after 3 years of abuse I can absolutely concur with that advice. If you can find a Forerunner 35 for less than £130 ( and you can) then get one, you will not be disappointed.
Even though it is square!!!
I hope that you enjoyed my article, I try to make my reviews both entertaining and as truthful as possible. I would invite your comments on either this or any article on my site in the comments below.
If you wish to contact me directly regarding any subject then please smash the Whatsap link. I will reply to any comment however it is delivered.